UK Government Official Gets Twitter Parody Account Closed Down For Mocking Politicians And Heads Of Large Companies
from the makes-you-gag dept
A couple of weeks ago, the UK passed what has become known as the “gagging bill”, because it puts major restrictions on how much charities and activist groups can spend while campaigning on political issues before an election. But that wasn’t the only thing the UK government was up to on the gagging front, as Tom Pride explains in a blog post:
as if to celebrate the occasion, a Twitter parody account that was critical of coalition policies was closed down after complaints were made from government officials.
The parody account was called @UKJCP, and it was a spoof of the UK’s Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), which had sent the following demand via Twitter to the parody account before it was closed down:
Can you stop RT tweets we have not written — it is not satire and is confusing to customers. It also exceeds your twitter agreement.
As Pride points out:
So now we’ve not just got government departments deciding what forms of public criticism are acceptable, but also deciding for us what exactly is humorous and what isn’t.
Since the parody account was shut down by a UK government department, it was possible to put in a freedom of information request for the exact details of the takedown demand. Here’s the key part (pdf):
The @UKJCP account has been set up with deliberate and malicious intent to devalue and criticise the work of Jobcentre Plus [the JCP in @UKJCP]. In addition, there are a number of rude and potentially libelous tweets aimed at UK government, elected politicians and the heads of large private sector organisations who are committed to working with government on reducing unemployment.
The story has a happy ending because the parody account has now been re-instated. But as Pride comments:
Apart from the obvious concern that UK government officials are openly trying to close down criticism of government, politicians and business leaders — I’m also pretty shocked that Twitter agreed to the request.
At least Twitter changed its mind on this particular kind of gagging — unlike the UK government.